Ufa (Russian: ufa; IPA: [f]), formerly known as Arkhangalsky, is the second largest city and the capital of the remote Kalmyk region in Irkutsk oblast. The former name was inspired by an ancient tree, the Ural elder tree, whose bark was used to prepare liquor. The tree, however, was never able to reestablish itself due to heavy logging, farming and other pressures. Nowadays, the tree is mostly destroyed or dead.
The majority of Ufa’s inhabitants live in the rural localities surrounding the town. They are known as sashtovs, meaning “without sashes”. Although they are nomadic people, some of them settled in cities, such as the famous city of Petersburg. The most distinctive characteristic of Ufa’s culture is its strong religious beliefs, characterized by a strong cultural and ethnic Christian presence. Orthodox Christianity is most prominent in its religious history, whereas Islam, which has made steady gains in nearby Chechnya and other regions of central Russia, is also gaining influence here.
Ufa’s population has been growing at about 3% a year since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, largely thanks to the relatively recent availability of work and a lucrative economy in places like Arkhangalsky, Tverland, and other towns and villages along the river. Even though tourism is one of its main sources of revenue, the region still depends heavily on agriculture. Many farmers still grow cotton, sugar cane, wheat, and corn, and a great number of them are still self-sufficient, thanks to nearly twenty thousand small farms in the area. Among these are the famed Tuva, Belokas, and Grushevskoy kopshelskis (three wheat varieties).
Because of its location, Ufa is particularly important to researchers looking into Russian demographics. The republic’s population is very diverse, even within its traditional agricultural areas; it is composed of both urban and rural populations. In the center of Ufa, you will find the more urbanized population, which consists mainly of university students and foreigners, while the Okrug and Chuvashin populations consist mainly of Tajikistani, Uzbekistani, and Ingushorean citizens. The Tajik and Ingushorean populations are mainly located around the center of Ufa, while the remaining population consists of younger people from other parts of Russia, including Chechnya, Ingusheti, and other regions. A notable exception is that the Chechens tend to be somewhat concentrated in the southern parts of Ufa.
One of the most important places to visit in Ufa is the capital, Moscow. While only 140 million people live in Ufa as a whole, Moscow itself is one of the largest cities in the country, housing almost two million people. And among cities in Russia, it is one of the fastest growing ones, seeing an annual growth of around seven percent. In fact, Moscow is one of the most densely populated cities in all of Asia, with Central Russia (the most eastern area of the country) housing about a third of its total population. The reason for this is that a high percentage of its people are classified as urban dwellers.
The next most important city in Ufa is Saint Petersburg, which is home to another quarter of its entire population. The city is home to both a separate Saint Petersburg International Airport and the special super league1st club, the KHL. Among the international teams that play in Saint Petersburg are teams from Canada, Finland, Germany, Russia, and the United States. And as a bonus, due to the large number of people who live in Ufa, there is a strong representative of every other country in the world!